I'm really excited to be able to finally post about our new version of Movable Type and the innovative way we are launching it.
As I said in my previous post to Mena's Corner, the plugin and developer community is one of Movable Type's greatest strengths. This is a sentiment we've seen echoed around the Movable Type community, as well, along with the question: if Six Apart recognizes that the developer community is one its strengths, what are they doing to foster that community?
I addressed some of what we're doing in my previous post, but I want to expand on that.
As I said above, today, we'll be releasing the Developer Release of Movable Type 3.0.
It will be available to everyone, not just developers; we're calling it a Developer Release to emphasize the fact that 3.0 itself is not a feature release in the traditional sense. With this release we hope that the developer community will implement some great extensions for 3.0.
Since many of Six Apart's employees are Apple fanboys/girls, we make the analogy to the first releases of OS X: the first releases did not offer that many new features themselves, only a more stable and robust platform for developers to build upon.
The Developer Release is just the first step in our commitment to developers.
Along with the release, we're doing the following:
Today release, we are also announcing a contest, called "Plug into Movable Type: 3.0 Developer Contest" to motivate developers to build cool new plugins for Movable Type 3.0 that make use of the new plugin architecture. While we (Six Apart) are already building out the features that we'll be including in subsequent releases, we believe that we'll really amazed by the extensions that the developer community thinks of.
The contest is geared towards building upon Movable Type as an application platform, and taking advantage of the new features in Movable Type 3.0.
We'll be giving away fantastic prizes — a $7K computer system is the first prize — these are prizes that many people on our team have expressed they want to win (but, of course, now we realize why employees and family of employees aren't eligible). The judges (internal and external to Six Apart) will base their decisions on both technical criteria: which extensions are most robust, make the best use of the new architecture, are optimize to perform on a different set-ups and hosts, etc --as well as user-facing criteria: which plugins are the coolest from a user perspective and have the greatest mass appeal.
Developers own their work
For the winners, they'll get great prizes, but they'll also get exposure. The developers who enter this contest will retain full ownership over the plugins they develop. When we were discussing this contest internally, we wanted to make sure that this wasn't the sort of contest that took ownership over all work submitted. While those who enter will grant us permission to distribute the plugins, we will not own the copyright. And, if they want to sell their plugin in the future (if that appeals to them), they can do that as well.
In that vein, we'll be creating a Plugin Pack to distribute the winning plugins. This will give users the ability to easily take advantage of the new features and extensions.
Hopefully, this contest will serve multiple purposes:
1. To highlight the platform changes in 3.0
2. To produce plugins that non-developers can use
3. To bring Movable Type developers out of the woodwork so that we can recognize their work and bring them into a network for referrals.
4. Possibly find the sort of talent that we'd like to bring into Six Apart.
Jumpstarting the Developer Network
We'll be starting a more formalized developer network, as a way for developers to get exposure both in the Movable Type community and in the business markets that Movable Type has been adopted in. Part of what we've heard from the community is that they feel like they are one of our greatest strengths, but that they didn't know if Six Apart was ready to make a commitment to support its external developers.
As mentioned above, we've changed our licenses for Movable Type 3.0, removing the clauses that don't allow consultants to charge for supporting Movable Type. The new licenses give developers and consultants the chance to make a living around supporting, extending, and customizing Movable Type. And, Six Apart is dedicated to helping that community thrive.
As a kickoff to the network, we'll be setting up an informal developer workshop to get a sense of what developers think we should be doing, their feedback on the direction of Movable Type, etc. If you're interested, keep an eye out for an announcement in the coming weeks.
And no, there isn't going to be a fee to join the network.
Call for Talent
At launch, we'll be unveiling a slightly refreshed movabletype.org. We'll have a special developer page set up with a form that will allow consultants and Movable Type developers (this includes template designers, plugin developers, Movable Type pros, etc...) to let us know what we need to do to help make them successful and how they'd like to work with us in the future.
Since we've been focused inwardly for so long, we honestly don't know all the stars in the community.
If you're one of these stars or if you have stories about how you use Movable Type inside your company, we'd love to hear how we all can mesh best. We'll then have, if all goes well, a strong directory of those who provide services at the launch of the non-developer version of Movable Type.
This is the first step --a baby step --but a significant step.
A lot of information to digest in a post that was meant to be brief. I hope that I've conveyed the excitement we feel at Six Apart. We know that our community it incredibly strong, that there are some amazing people out there that will create great enhancements and that this is just the beginning of an even stronger relationship with our users.
We look forward to this release and the many to follow after.